A Toll Gate Middle School teacher who helps struggling students improve learning and catch up academically with classmates has been named the Pickerington Local School District's Teacher of the Year.

A Toll Gate Middle School teacher who helps struggling students improve learning and catch up academically with classmates has been named the Pickerington Local School District's Teacher of the Year.

Tammy Harman, an intervention specialist at Toll Gate Middle School, was named the PLSD 2012-13 Teacher of the Year Monday during a PLSD Board of Education meeting.

Harman is in her 13th year with the district, after previously teaching for five years in the Lancaster City School District and one year in the Bloom-Carroll Local School District.

"I was very, very surprised," Harman said after receiving the award. "It's a huge honor to be selected by my colleagues at my school ... because the other teachers are so amazing.

"To think they picked me as their Teacher of the Year, I just sobbed," she said.

"They're just all so talented and they care for the kids so much."

Building and district teacher of the year awards are given annually in the district.

Nominations are made at each school in the district for building teacher of the year and are selected based on a points system by committees for respective school buildings.

Each building teacher of the year then becomes a candidate for the district teacher of the year.

The winner is selected by an eight-person committee, which consists of a district office administrator, one building principal in the district, two teachers, one parent, one Pickerington School Board member, one support services employee and one county office representative.

Committee members review teachers' qualifications, including their years of experience, education and professional development.

In 2003, Harman also was named Teacher of the Year for Diley Middle School.

However, this year's award marked the first time she'd been recognized for the districtwide award.

A Pickerington resident since 1986, Harman began working in the PLSD in 2000 after taking 11 years off to be a stay-at-home mother.

She has served as an intervention specialist throughout her local tenure, which has included stops at Pickerington Elementary School and Diley Middle School.

As such, Harman assists students who are struggling to keep pace with their classmates.

Her philosophy, she said, is to determine what motivates each student and which tools assist his or her learning.

"I just think it's really important to teach them in a way they can learn," Harman said.

"By the time they get to the fifth grade, some of them want to quit already. If one way doesn't work, you need to try something else," she said.

"We have a lot of fun, too. The kids, especially the ones who struggle, need to have some fun at school."

Harman said she particularly enjoys helping students improve their reading and math skills, but said both her love for working with youths and the support she receives from her fellow teachers and principals keeps her excited to come to school.

"I get really involved with the kids," she said. "I love them all, and I'm just thrilled to be working with the teachers, principals and special education coordinators."

In addition to the district teacher of the year, the following teachers were recognized Monday as 2012-13 teachers of the year for their respective schools:

* Shelly Perigo, fourth-grade teacher, Fairfield Elementary School.

* Joseph Harris, global intervention team, Heritage Elementary School.

* Cheryl Way, fourth-grade teacher, Pickerington Elementary School.

* Michelle Stone, first-grade teacher, Sycamore Creek Elementary School.

* Tracey Gates, third-grade teacher, Toll Gate Elementary School.

* Kathy Baird, counselor, Tussing Elementary School.

* Kevin Topy, fourth-grade teacher, Violet Elementary School.

* Rebecca Hornberger, fifth-grade teacher, Diley Middle School.

* Melissa Zapf, fifth-grade teacher, Harmon Middle School.

* Tammy Harman, intervention specialist, Toll Gate Middle School.

* Kerri Schill, media specialist, Lakeview Junior High School.

* Krista Messner, language arts teacher, Ridgeview Junior High School.

* Phil Miller, intervention specialist, Pickerington High School Central.

* Jillian Walters, intervention specialist, Pickerington High School North.

The 2012-13 support services employees of the year were:

* Clark Raver, custodian, PHS Central.

* Tasha Wagner, food service, Toll Gate Middle.

* Diana Myers, administrative secretary to the PLSD director of special education.

* Patricia Petrini, duty aide, Ridgeview.